Description of two three-gendered nematode species in the new genus Auanema (Rhabditina) that are models for reproductive mode evolution. Academic Article uri icon


  • The co-existence of males, females and hermaphrodites, a rare mating system known as trioecy, has been considered as an evolutionarily transient state. In nematodes, androdioecy (males/hermaphrodites) as found in Caenorhabditis elegans, is thought to have evolved from dioecy (males/females) through a trioecious intermediate. Thus, trioecious species are good models to understand the steps and requirements for the evolution of new mating systems. Here we describe two new species of nematodes with trioecy, Auanema rhodensis and A. freiburgensis. Along with molecular barcodes, we provide a detailed analysis of the morphology of these species, and document it with drawings and light and SEM micrographs. Based on morphological data, these free-living nematodes were assigned to a new genus, Auanema, together with three other species described previously. Auanema species display convergent evolution in some features with parasitic nematodes with complex life cycles, such as the production of few males after outcrossing and the obligatory development of dauers into self-propagating adults.

publication date

  • September 11, 2017